According to a recent study by real estate advisor Savills, luxury brands still see the UK’s capital city as a good bet, despite the ongoing challenges facing its high streets. Its research found that London was the most active city for luxury retailers last year, accounting for 9.6% of all luxury store openings worldwide.
So what is it about the luxury customer experience that makes store openings so evidently profitable, even at a time when the industry as a whole is looking at reducing its estate thanks to rising costs and (apparently) diminishing footfall?
The answer lies in the fact that luxury retailers have always been ahead of the game in personalised customer experience – offering one-to-one service and tailored communications has long been intrinsic to their strategy to attract and retain customers. Guaranteed VIP treatment from well-informed sales colleagues who anticipate their customers’ wants and needs is a terrific motivator for an in-store visit.
And they’re quick to adopt the tech that makes it easy for them to deliver superior service – look at any of the many top ten lists of retailers offering tech-enhanced experiences and you’ll see the likes of Burberry, CHANEL and Louis Vuitton on most of them. Of course, part of the reason for their ability to forge ahead with everything from concept stores to hyper-personal service and the latest in-store innovations is the fact that they have money to invest – the issue of cost has put this kind of development out of reach for a number of retailers outside the luxury bracket.
Until relatively recently, that is.
Now that technology has democratised access to customer data across all channels and operational areas, true clienteling based on individual customer preferences is no longer limited to luxury brands. It’s possible to give every customer a VIP experience and take advantage of the solid footfall figures that luxury retailers have been enjoying, without having to invest heavily or disrupt business as usual.
Sales colleagues empowered with all-round knowledge about the customer’s wants and needs as well as stock availability and product information are able to provide exactly the right level of service, from online ordering in-store to upselling appropriate products and offering exclusive communications through in-depth profiling.
The kind of experience that entices luxury customers to visit stores can be available to everyone – as luxury brands have consistently shown, it can make the difference between remaining relevant to the high street in the 21st century and falling by the wayside, like so many retailers who have failed to keep pace with shopper expectations.